February 15, 2000
From Vatican Sources

VATICAN CITY, FEB 15, 2000 (VIS) - The Basic Agreement between the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, signed this morning in the Vatican by representatives of each side, consists of a Preamble and 12 Articles. Article 11 states: "Done in two original copies in the English and Arabic languages, both texts are equally authentic. In case of divergence, the English text shall prevail."

The Preamble states that both sides: are "deeply aware of the special significance of the Holy Land"; have "reviewed the history and development of the relations between the Holy See and the Palestinian People"; re-affirm "the need to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East"; and call "for a peaceful solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which would realize the inalienable national legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian People."

It also affirms: "Declaring that an equitable solution for the issue of Jerusalem, based on international resolutions, is fundamental for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, and that unilateral decisions and actions altering the specific character and status of Jerusalem are morally and legally unacceptable."

In conclusion the Preamble says: "Calling, therefore, for a special statute for Jerusalem, internationally guaranteed, which should safeguard the following: a. Freedom of religion and conscience for all. b. The equality before the law of the three monotheistic religions and their institutions and followers in the City. c. The proper identity and sacred character of the City... . d. The Holy Places, the freedom of access to them and of worship in them. e. The Regime of 'status quo' in those Holy Places where it applies."

The two parties then list the 12 Articles upon which they agree. Article 1 includes the PLO's "permanent commitment to uphold and observe the human right to freedom of religion and conscience," the Holy See's affirmation of "the commitment of the Catholic Church to support this right" and a reiteration of the Church's respect "for the followers of other religions."

Articles 5 and 6 affirm that the PLO recognizes both "the freedom of the Catholic Church to exercise her rights to carry out ... her functions and traditions," and "the rights of the Catholic Church in economic, legal and fiscal matters." Article 7 says: "Full effect will be given in Palestinian Law to the legal personality of the Catholic Church and of the canonical legal persons."